Saturday, February 8, 2020

A more egalitarian society (more equal distribution of unpaid care & domestic work) correlates with women being increasingly supportive of a large and encompassing welfare state, much more than men

The gender gap in welfare state attitudes in Europe: The role of unpaid labour and family policy. Mikael Goossen. Journal of European Social Policy, February 5, 2020.

Abstract: Previous research has shown a prevailing ‘modern gender gap’ in socio-political attitudes in advanced capitalist economies. While numerous studies have confirmed gender differences in attitudes towards the welfare state in Europe, few have addressed the reason for this rift in men’s and women’s views about the role of government in ensuring the general welfare of citizens. In this article, I examine the relationship between gender equality in unpaid labour, family policy and the gender gap in welfare state attitudes. Based on data from 21 countries participating in the European Social Survey (ESS) Round 4, and using a mix of country- and individual-level regression models and multilevel models, I find that there is a clear relationship between country-level gender equality in unpaid labour and gender differences in support of an encompassing welfare state. A more equal distribution of unpaid care and domestic work correlates with women being increasingly supportive of a large and encompassing welfare state, in comparison with men. This pattern holds when controlling for individual-level economic risk and resources, cultural factors such as trust and social values traditionally related to the support of an encompassing welfare state, and beliefs about welfare state efficiency and consequences for society in general. This pattern is evident for countries with a low level of familistic policies, while no distinguishable pattern is discernible for highly familistic countries. These findings have implications for the perception of gender as an emergent social cleavage with respect to welfare state attitudes. The results are discussed in the light of institutional theories on policy feedback, familism, social role theory and previous findings relating to modernization theory and ‘gender realignment’.

Keywords: Attitudes, comparative research, division of labour, family policy, gender gap, gender roles, welfare state

Power play in BDSM: Submissives showed increases in cortisol & endocannabinoid levels, & dominants only showing increased endocannabinoid levels

Wuyts E, De Neef N, Coppens V, et al. Between Pleasure and Pain: A Pilot Study on the Biological Mechanisms Associated With BDSM Interactions in Dominants and Submissives. J Sex Med 2020;XX:XXX–XXX.

Background  BDSM is an abbreviation used to reference the concepts of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism, and masochism, enacted by power exchanges between consensual partners.

Aim  To shed light upon the rewarding biological mechanisms associated with BDSM interactions.

Methods  A group of 35 BDSM couples (dominant and submissive counterparts) were recruited and tested during a BDSM interaction, with an additional control group of 27 non-BDSM interested people tested in a normal social interaction.

Outcomes  We compared the evolution of the stress and reward hormone levels of cortisol, beta-endorphins, and endocannabinoids (2AG and anandamide) in a group of BDSM practitioners before and after an active BDSM interaction with the levels in control individuals.

Results  We showed that submissives showed increases in cortisol and endocannabinoid levels due to the BDSM interaction, with dominants only showing increased endocannabinoid levels when the BDSM interaction was associated with power play.

Clinical Implications  This study effectively provides a link between behavior that many think of as aberrant on one hand, and biological pleasure experience on the other, in the hope that it may relieve some of the stigma these practitioners still endure.

Strengths & Limitations  It is one of the first and largest studies of its kind, but is still limited in sample size and only represents a specific population of Flemish BDSM practitioners.

Conclusion  Even though this is one of the first studies of its kind, we can conclude that there is a clear indication for increased pleasure in submissives when looking at biological effects of a BDSM interaction, which was related to the increases in experienced stress.

Key Words: BDSMSadismMasochismCortisolEndocannabinoidsBeta-endorphin

Time to Orgasm in Women in a Monogamous Stable Heterosexual Relationship: Mean reported time was 13.41 ± 7.67 min; 17% of the participants had never experienced the orgasm

Bhat GS, Shastry A. Time to Orgasm in Women in a Monogamous Stable Heterosexual Relationship. J Sex Med 2020;XX:XXX–XXX.

Background  Orgasm in women is a complex phenomenon, and the sparse data about time to orgasm (TitOr) in women are an impediment to the research on this complex phenomenon.

Aim  To evaluate the stopwatch measured TitOr in women in a monogamous stable heterosexual relationship.

The study was conducted through web-based and personal interview using a questionnaire, which addressed the issues related to TitOr. Sexually active women older than 18 years and women in a monogamous stable heterosexual relationship were included in the study. Those with comorbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, psychiatric illness, sexual dysfunction and those with partners with sexual dysfunction were excluded. The participants reported stopwatch measured TitOr after adequate sexual arousal over an 8-week period. The data analysis was performed using GraphPad software (©2018 GraphPad Software, Inc, USA).

Outcomes  The outcomes included stopwatch measured average TitOr in women.

Results  The study period was from October 2017 to September 2018 with a sample size of 645. The mean age of the participants was 30.56 ± 9.36 years. The sample was drawn from 20 countries, with most participants from India, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and the United States of America. The mean reported TitOr was 13.41 ± 7.67 minutes (95% confidence interval: 12.76 minutes–14.06 minutes). 17% of the participants had never experienced the orgasm. Penovaginal intercourse was insufficient to reach orgasm in the majority, in whom it was facilitated by certain positions and maneuvers.

Clinical Implications  The knowledge of stopwatch measured TitOr in women in real-life setting helps to define, treat, and understand female sexual function/dysfunction better and it also helps to plan treatment of male ejaculatory dysfunction, as reported ejaculatory latency in healthy men is much less than the reported TitOr here.

Strengths & limitations  Use of stopwatch to measure TitOr and a large multinational sample are the strength of the study. The absence of a crosscheck mechanism to check the accuracy of the stopwatch measurement is the limitation of the study.

Conclusion  Stopwatch measured average TitOr in the sample of women in our study, who were in a monogamous stable heterosexual relationship, is 13.41 minutes (95% confidence interval: 12.76 minutes–14.06 minutes) and certain maneuvers as well as positions during penovaginal intercourse help achieving orgasm, more often than not.

Key Words: OrgasmTime to OrgasmOrgasmic LatencyFemale Sexual Dysfunction

"It's not about the money. It's about sending a message!": Unpacking the Components of Revenge

"It's not about the money. It's about sending a message!": Unpacking the Components of Revenge. Andras Molnar, Shereen J ChaudhryGeorge Loewenstein. SSRN, January 24 2020.

Abstract: We examine whether belief-based preferences--caring about what transgressors believe--play a crucial role in punishment decisions: Do punishers want to make sure that transgressors understand why they are being punished, and is this desire to affect beliefs often prioritized over distributive and retributive preferences? We test whether punishers derive utility from three distinct sources: material outcomes (their own and the transgressor's payoff), affective states (the transgressor's suffering), and cognitive states (the transgressor's beliefs about the cause of that suffering). In a novel, preregistered experiment (N = 1, 959) we demonstrate that consideration for transgressors' beliefs affects punishment decisions on its own, regardless of the considerations for material outcomes (distributional preferences) and affective states (retributive preferences). By contrast, we find very little evidence for pure retributive preferences (i.e., to merely inflict suffering on transgressors). We also show that people who would otherwise enact harsh punishments, are willing to punish less severely, if by doing so they can tell the transgressor why they are punishing them. Finally, we demonstrate that the preference for affecting transgressors' beliefs cannot be explained by deterrence motives (i.e., to make transgressors behave better in the future).

Keywords: Punishment, Belief-based utility
JEL Classification: D03, C70

Behavioural Changes in Mice after Getting Accustomed to the Mirror

Behavioural Changes in Mice after Getting Accustomed to the Mirror. Hiroshi Ueno et al. Behavioural Neurology, Volume 2020 |Article ID 4071315 | 12 pages, Feb 3 2020.

Abstract: Patients with brain function disorders due to stroke or dementia may show inability to recognize themselves in the mirror. Although the cognitive ability to recognize mirror images has been investigated in many animal species, the animal species that can be used for experimentation and the mechanisms involved in recognition remain unclear. We investigated whether mice have the ability to recognize their mirror images. Demonstrating evidence of this in mice would be useful for researching the psychological and biological mechanisms underlying this ability. We examined whether mice preferred mirrors, whether plastic tapes on their heads increased their interest, and whether mice accustomed to mirrors learnt its physical phenomenon. Mice were significantly more interested in live stranger mice than mirrors. Mice with tape on their heads spent more time before mirrors. Becoming accustomed to mirrors did not change their behaviour. Mice accustomed to mirrors had significantly increased interest in photos of themselves over those of strangers and cage-mates. These results indicated that mice visually recognized plastic tape adherent to reflected individuals. Mice accustomed to mirrors were able to discriminate between their images, cage-mates, and stranger mice. However, it is still unknown whether mice recognize that the reflected images are of themselves.

4. Discussion

In this study, we applied a plastic tape to the heads of mice and investigated their change in interest towards the mirror. The interest in the mirror when the plastic tape was applied to the heads of mice significantly increased from before they were accustomed to the mirror to after they were accustomed to the mirror. Furthermore, we found that mice frequently contacted the mirror, suggesting that they could distinguish the image on the mirror from the faces of the cage-mate and stranger mice.
Animals that are thought to be able to perceive their reflections in the mirror as their own figures, in many cases, follow four steps when faced with a mirror: (1) make social reactions, (2) explore the physical sense (such as checking the back of the mirror), (3) perform repetitive actions to test the mirror, and (4) understand that the image reflected is their own [9]. In the tests used in this study, mice did not show social reactions or exploratory behaviours of reacting positively to mirrors as did chimpanzees, dogs, and fish in previous studies. The interest of the mice to the opaque board was comparable to that to the mirror. Previous reports show that the mirror slightly disgusted the mice, and that unlike with other animal species, mirrors are not environmentally enriching material for mice [2223]. For this reason, chambers composed of mirrors are used to test the effects of anxiolytic drugs in mice [2425]. The difference in our results may be due to the differences in the familiarity of the mice to the mirror, the reflective state of the plastic breeding home cages, single breeding versus mass breeding, and the illuminance of the experimental environment. Specular reflection provides only visual information, whereas live animals provide multiple sensory information. Therefore, live animals have richer stimuli than mirrors. Since mice are animals that prioritize olfaction rather than vision and hearing, it is considered reasonable that their interest in the mirror without smell quickly diminishes.
In this study, all the mice showed a stronger interest in the live stranger mouse than in the mirror. Previous studies have reported that mice are more interested in mirrors than stranger mice [26]. The difference in these results may have been because of accustoming the mice to the mirror, which may have affected the result. However, it is reasonable that the mice would show interest in live stranger mice that provide multiple sensory information rather than in specular reflections that provide only visual information. Moreover, even if mice do not understand the reflection in the mirror as the reflected image of itself, it is a natural reaction to ignore the mirror image as a harmless stimulus for themselves rather than to recognize it as a homogeneous individual to react with socially [27]. In fact, the mental process and cognitive ability of the mouse in response to the mirror are unknown, and further research is needed for elucidation. This study shows that mice are not interested in mirrors.
We applied small plastic tapes to the heads of mice for the tape on the head test. Mice with the tapes on their heads showed an increased interest in the mirror. Even after becoming accustomed to the mirror, the interest of the taped mouse to the mirrors remained high. However, the taped mice did not show behaviour suggestive of trying to eliminate the tape. During the mark test, the mark may not be perceived as abnormal by the animals, and they may not feel the impulse to touch it. Pigs have been reported to be able to recognize their movements in the mirror in a very short time, and to be self-conscious [28]. However, it is thought that since pigs are accustomed to the state of mud being attached to their bodies, even if they are marked during experiments, they do not mind this. This does not mean that they are not self-perceiving. Even if they can perceive themselves, if the motivation to remove dirt from their faces is small, they would not show action suggestive of trying to touch the mark. It may be possible that mice, like pigs, do not feel the necessity to remove foreign objects attached to their bodies. The mark test is a compound task in which the ability of the subject to use tools, recognize itself, and detect visual information is questioned. The mark test has been used as a method for confirming the presence or absence of self-awareness, but opinion is divided on its validity [16]. The mark test represents one aspect of self-recognition that has, in recent years, been considered to be different from the overall self-recognition that human beings experience. Moreover, it may not be so meaningful to target an animal that mainly uses a sense other than vision during the mirror test [29]. The results of the present study did not necessarily indicate the existence of self-recognition capability in mice. However, it showed that mice visually perceived unusual states through the mirror. Further research is needed to clarify factors that increase the interest of mice towards mirrors.
Other than the head, the throat is another location that can be used to attach the tape. A similar study analysed the behaviour of a magpie with a tape attached to the throat [10]. However, the throat is a motile part of the animal body, and a tape attached to the throat would provide a tactile stimulus. However, the skin on the head is immobile, and a level of similar tactile stimulus would be implausible.
This study showed that, by spending time with a mirror in the home cage, mice changed their interest in photos of themselves over photos of cage-mates and stranger mice. This mouse behaviour indicated that by learning through the mirror, the mice recognized that the image in the mirror was different from the figure of their cage-mate mice. It should be noted that the results of this study are not evidence that mice recognize the images in the mirror as their own. However, some animals have shown that their self-perception of the mirror image can be enabled through experience [3031]. It has been reported that self-perception of the mirror image occurs naturally in rhesus macaques after training for accurate visual-specific receptor association to mirror images [3233]. It has also been reported that pigeons pass the mark test after thorough training by voluntary and mirror-based pecking [3034]. In recent years, it has been reported that the cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus) is able to self-recognize by learning [12]. In addition, it is indicated that the age of acquiring mirror image self-recognition in humans is related to the frequency of postnatally experiencing the mirror and to cultural differences [35]. Among infants in Africa, where opportunities to see mirrors are less frequent than in developed countries, it is reported that the age at which mirror images of the self can be clearly perceived is somewhat higher. The results of this study are consistent with previous reports, indicating the possibility that more animals show that there is a sense of “self” than we think. Since mirror image self-recognition increased as the mirror was experienced more frequently, it is considered that changing the cognitive evaluation of the mirror at the stage when the reflecting property of the mirror and the reflecting object are learnt becomes the turning point.
The mental processes of mice and other animal species, such as apes are unknown, and it is difficult to decipher the cognitive abilities of such animals. Our results show that the mouse is an animal that alters recognition to the mirror by learning. Further research is needed to clarify the mirror recognition of the self by mice. Having a mouse as an effective model for behavioural research, such as mirror self-recognition, opens doors to study aspects of this behaviour that would otherwise be impossible to study.
Patients who suffer from failure of brain function due to a stroke or dementia may show symptoms of being able to recognize the images of their family members and others in the mirror, while not being able to recognize their own images. This phenomenon is called mirror self-misidentification [36]. Mirror self-misidentification is also a symptom of dissociative disorder [37]. However, the mechanism by which this occurs is not clear. Furthermore, when the function of the upper part of the medial prefrontal cortex is temporarily stopped by the transcranial magnetic stimulation method, the person manifests symptoms of being unable to recognize themselves when looking at the mirror [38]. These reports suggest that specific neural circuits are involved in the perception of mirror images of oneself in humans. It is therefore useful to develop a method to clarify these neural mechanisms, to treat cranial nerve disease, and to further clarify the evolutionary basis of the cognitive ability of recognizing mirror images of oneself. New knowledge obtained by conducting experiments on animals focus on whether or not mirror self-recognition is possible for those specific species. Furthermore, many other questions on the neural infrastructure remain. This study shows the potential of using mice for elucidating neural circuits.

Greek Cultural Context: About half of men preferring several sexual partners, not minding lower mate malue; about a third of women preferred several lifetime sexual partners, minding the mate value

Desire for Sexual Variety in the Greek Cultural Context. Menelaos Apostolou. The Cyprus Review, Vol. 31 No. 1 (2019), Feb 4, 2020.

Abstract: Human beings exhibit considerable variation in their approach towards the number of sexual partners they wish to have. One consistent predictor of this variation has been sex—men desire more sexual partners than women. The current study aims to examine whether this effect is present in the Greek cultural context. In particular, a sample of 1414 Greek and Greek-Cypriot participants were asked about their desired number of sexual partners at different stages in their lives. It was found that men preferred significantly more partners than women. It was further found that men were divided in their preferences, with about half preferring several, and about half preferring a few lifetime sexual partners. On the other hand, about three-thirds of women preferred a few lifetime sexual partners with about one-third preferring several lifetime partners.

Results provided very limited evidence for the existence of opinion-based homogeneity on YouTube, even when the whole network was divided into sub-networks

Opinion-based Homogeneity on YouTube: Combining Sentiment and Social Network Analysis. Daniel Röchert+German Neubaum+Björn Ross+Florian Brachten+Stefan Stieglitz. Computational Communication Research, February 3, 2020.

Abstract: The growing complexity of political communication online goes along with increasing methodological challenges to process communication data properly in order to investigate public concerns such as the existence of echo chambers. To cover the full range of political diversity in online communication, we argue that it is necessary to focus on specific political issues. This study proposes an innovative combination of computational methods, including natural language processing and social network analysis, that serves as a model for future research on the evolution of opinion climates in online networks. Data were gathered on YouTube, enabling the assessment of users’ expressed opinions on two political issues. Results provided very limited evidence for the existence of opinion-based homogeneity on YouTube. This was true even when the whole network was divided into sub-networks. Findings are discussed in light of current computational communication research and the vigorous debate on echo chambers in online networks.

Keywords: machine-learning, echo chamber, social network analysis, computational science

Cities have a negative impact on navigation ability: evidence from 38 countries

Cities have a negative impact on navigation ability: evidence from 38 countries. Antoine Coutrot, Ed Manley, Demet Yesiltepe, Ruth C Dalton, Jan M Wiener, Christoph Holscher, Michael Hornberger, Hugo J Spiers. bioRxiv, Feb 5 2020.

Abstract: Cultural and geographical properties of the environment have been shown to deeply influence cognition and mental health. However, how the environment experienced during early life impacts later cognitive abilities remains poorly understood. Here, we used a cognitive task embedded in a video game to measure non-verbal spatial navigation ability in 442,195 people from 38 countries across the world. We found that on average, people who reported having grown up in cities have worse navigation skills than those who grew-up outside cities, even when controlling for age, gender, and level of education. The negative impact of cities was stronger in countries with low average Street Network Entropy, i.e. whose cities have a griddy layout. The effect was smaller in countries with more complex, organic cities. This evidences the impact of the environment on human cognition on a global scale, and highlights the importance of urban design on human cognition and brain function.